WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. — No. 7-ranked Lindsey Wilson football captured the program’s third divisional title with a 24-21 win today over host and No. 8 Cumberlands (Ky.) at James H Taylor II Stadium.
The Blue Raiders (10-0, 7-0 in the Mid-South Conference Bluegrass Division) wrap up the program’s second perfect regular season with the win and earns an automatic bid into the NAIA Football Championship Series which begins next Saturday.
J.T. Lyon stopped Josiah Robbins short of the first down on a botched field goal attempt to preserve the three-point win. The Patriots (9-1, 6-1) rushed their field goal unit onto the field inside the final two minutes trailing by three. With no timeouts, a low snap forced Robbins to try to run for the first down, but the Blue Raider defense stopped him three yards short of the marker to secure the title.
Lindsey Wilson adds the 2019 crown to its 2014 and 2017 titles. LWC will host a playoff game next Saturday at Blue Raider Stadium. Pairings are scheduled to be announced on Sunday at 6 p.m. CT.
The Blue Raiders took advantage of three Cumberlands’ turnovers in the game, scoring 14 points off the Patriots miscues. The Lindsey Wilson defense owns 31 takeaways this season. The Blue Raiders lead the NAIA with a +23 turnover margin.
Cumberlands struck first on its opening drive as Robbins sprinted 60 yards for a touchdown to cap a 6-play, 78-yard drive for the 7-0 lead.
The Blue Raiders responded on a short field following the first turnover of the game.
After the Patriot defense stopped Lindsey Wilson’s ensuing drive, a punt bounced off a Cumberlands’ player and T.J. James was there to gobble up the loose ball on the Patriot 28-yard line.
Getting a second chance, the Blue Raiders made the Patriots pay for the mistake as Cameron Dukes hit Joshua Lewis on a five-yard slant on third-and-goal for a touchdown. The third-down conversion was one of 10 conversions on 18 third-down plays during the game for the Blue Raiders. Lewis finished with a career-high eight catches for 83 yards and the one touchdown.
Cumberlands responded on its next drive, marching 75 yards on 12 plays to take a 14-7 lead. Robbins connected with Darius Young on a six-yard touchdown toss to push the Patriots back in front. Robbins finished the game 20-of-27 for 228 passing yards and two touchdowns. He added 88 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
The Blue Raiders nearly matched the Cumberlands drive on its ensuing possession with a 12-play, 74-yard scoring drive. Dukes capped the drive with a four-yard plunge behind the Blue Raider offensive line to tie the game. Dukes ended the game 19-of-28 for 217 yards and two touchdowns.
Lindsey Wilson took the lead for good on its next possession.
James Todd aided in the momentum swing with his team-leading seventh interception of the year. Todd — who broke the single-season record last week — returned the Robbins errant pass to the Cumberlands’ 40-yard line.
Despite the good field position, the Lindsey Wilson offense looked to be stalled after an incomplete pass, a one-yard run, and a 15-yard penalty. But on third-and-24, Dukes stepped up in the pocket and found Terrill Cole Jr all alone streaking up the right boundary for a 54-yard touchdown strike and a 21-14 lead.
The touchdown toss is Dukes’ 32nd of the season, four of which have gone to Cole.
The Blue Raiders had a chance to add to its lead on its last drive of the second quarter and the first drive of the third quarter, but uncharacteristic mistakes kept the lead at seven.
A drop pass that had a chance to go for a touchdown in the second quarter and a fumble — just the team’s second of the year — in the third quarter that ended a 16-play, 75-yard drive at the Cumberlands’ three-yard line aided in the Patriots remaining within striking distance.
Both defenses came up big in the second half.
Lindsey Wilson managed just a field goal and Cumberlands a touchdown after the break.
Jared Dougherty extended the Lindsey Wilson lead to 10 with a 32-yard field goal with just under five minutes left in regulation. The make is his 10th of the season — setting a new single-season record.
Cumberlands responded with its most efficient drive of the game. The Patriots marched 79 yards on seven plays in just under two minutes to climb within 24-21.
The Blue Raiders had a chance to ice the game on its ensuing drive, but the Patriot defense held on fourth-and-four from its own 39-yard line.
Cumberlands — full of momentum — needed just two plays to reach just outside the redzone.
The Lindsey Wilson defense made sure the Patriots did not reach the redzone to secure the divisional championship.
Following a seven-yard completion to set up second-and-three from the LWC 22-yard line, the Blue Raiders brought the pressure forcing a pair of incompletions. With the play clock dwindling, the Patriots tried to tie the game but were denied.
James led the Blue Raider defense with seven tackles while Mark Pruitt and Luke Bowman added six stops each.
Lindsey Wilson finds out on Sunday who will be coming to Columbia for the NAIA FCS. Kickoff for next Saturday’s game will be announced on Monday.